Herod and True Greatness
Heart Message - True Greatness
KING HEROD, THE GREAT?
74 BC – 4BC
By what standard shall King Herod be called great?
He built pagan temples, amphitheaters, vast building enterprises, he rebuilt
ancient cities, new cities, temples, hippodromes, a beautiful tower, a large
artificial harbor, settlements and strongholds, a royal palace, the Antonia
Fortress, and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which was world renowned for its
magnificence. Certainly by worldly standards many consider these accomplishments
He lived in wealth and splendor, ruled for a generation, was loved by many of
the cultural elites, though hated by the religious Jews. Yet with all his
acclaim, wealth, power and luxury, he was still troubled when he heard from some
eastern astrologers that in their opinion, according to their star observations,
the “King of the Jews” was born.
Herod was troubled? And all Jerusalem with him? Troubled about the birth of a
baby? Herod the great King? He had all a man could want. What could be added to
his fortunate existence, what satisfaction was he being robbed of? Herod was in
his old age at this time, most likely near 70. He knew enough of Hebrew
scripture to understand that there was a promise of a Messiah, a Savior to come,
who would rule on the throne of David. So he calls a large meeting with all of
the great bible scholars of the day, and asks them, “where the Messiah was to be
born?” They accurately told him Bethlehem according to the prophet Micah. Wasn’t
this good news to him? It was wonderful news to these rulers from the East, they
were quite excited about it. They’re earthly authority was not threatened. But
Herod’s fearful, clutching grip on power was. His own rule would not suffer, but
possibly those of his heritage who would rule after him. He won’t be there when
this new Messianic king is old enough to rule, but he doesn’t want anything to
harm his legacy. He hasn’t gotten enough satisfaction in this life, he is now
lusting for pseudo-immortality in the rule of his dynasty.
Is there any reflection in Herod’s mind? The prophets accurately predict that
this child is the promised One, and the foreign kingly star interpreters are a
sign and wonder of Divine confirmation. Doesn’t this point to a miraculous
birth? Wouldn’t you think that if you opposed this birth, you would be opposing
God? Evidently Herod thought, that he was greater than God Himself, and could
prevent this child from growing into his Divine destiny, and thus preserve his
own grip on kingly power through the generations that followed after him. His
pride was so great that he tried to kill the Messiah, and his bloodthirsty lust
for power was also willing to kill every baby boy in the entire area.
King Herod I who was called "the great" certainly did think of himself as great.
It wasn't long after this confrontation with God’s authority, that he became
extremely sick and died.
With all that Herod accomplished and experienced in his lavish and powerful
life, he was still a pitifully empty fearful man, who died a miserable death,
and entered eternity as the man who tried to kill the Son of God. Was he great?
Rather than being numbered with this sick soul who was threatened by God’s
authority and tried to kill it, let us join with the wise men who gave up time,
money, and traveled a great distance across an unforgiving desert by camel
caravan, because they have seen “His star in the East and have come to worship
Him.” The wise men knew what Herod refused to admit; that God alone is worthy,
beautiful, the creator, and redeemer who wants only our best. They knew that the
foretold Child was somehow willing to travel a great distance Himself on
humanity’s behalf. Indeed Jesus, lived out a longsuffering life for us at great
cost, and died upon the cross that we might be liberated from a nature that
craves and is never satisfied, to a nature that is only at rest in Him. May we
also do whatever it takes to clutch and cleave to Him throughout our trials and
victories, pursuing His riches and the peace which surpasses all understanding.
We still have a choice, to pursue greatness that the world will acknowledge,
just like Herod, or to pursue a humility demonstrated by the wise men who knew
that true greatness was in the humility of the baby in the manger, Deity
Incarnate, come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Eccl. 2:11 "Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and
the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind
and there was no profit under the sun."
Mark 8:36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit
Matt 11:25-30 "At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven
and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and
have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in
Your sight." All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one
knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son,
and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary
and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from
Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
"in the days of Herod the king" -
Herod the Great - A Brief Overview
Click on the Picture
Herod I (the Great) was son of Antipater and made king by the Romans in 40
B.C. He managed to keep hold of his throne in the face of the many changes in
the government at Rome.
His kingdom comprised Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Batanea, and Peraea,
which was approximately the same size as the kingdom of David and Solomon.
Although Herod had exceptional leadership skills, he was extremely disliked by
the Jews. His attitude toward the Maccabean dynasty, to which he was related by
marriage, along with his insolence and cruelty, angered them all the more. He
even had his brother-in-law and several of his wives and sons executed.
He forced heavy taxes and brutally repressed any rebellions. But it was by his
policy of Hellenistic culture that he greatly wounded the Jews. The construction
of a race-course, a theater, and an amphitheater in Jerusalem, his wide support
of the emperor cult in the East, and the construction of pagan temples in
foreign cities at his own expense could not be forgiven, even though he restored
and reconstructed the Temple of Jerusalem and continually pleaded the cause of
the Jews of the Diaspora to the emperor to his own gains.
There was no close tie between the king and his people; he remained an Edomite
and a friend of Rome, only holding on to his power by the use of a merciless
military force. This is the same Herod the Great who massacred the children of
Bethlehem (Matt. 2).
Herod suddenly died in 4 B.C.
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Bibliography on Herod the
The Many Faces of Herod the Great
by Marshak, 448 Pages, Pub. 2014
The True Herod
by Vermes, 192 Pages, Pub. 2014